Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birfday to Me!

Black Forest Cake
for the cake:
  • 1,2/3 cups flour
  • 1,1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1,1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
for the filling:
  • 1,1/2 cups cherry jam or preserves
  • 3 Tbs kirsch
  • 2 cups heavy cream
for the frosting:
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • (optional) candied cherries to decorate

Bake the cakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment paper.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Melt the chocolate and water in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Set aside to cool.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition. With mixer at low speed, gradually beat in the chocolate mixture, sour cream, and dry ingredients.

Spoon half the batter in each of the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 45-55min. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10min. Turn out onto racks. Carefully remove the parchment paper and let cool completely. Split the cakes horizontally.

Make the Cherry Cream Filling
Mix the jam and kirsch. With mixer at high speed, beat the cream in a medium bowl until stiff.

Make the Chocolate Frosting
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water.

Assemble the Cake
Place on cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with one-third of the preserves mixture and one-third of the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining cake layers, finishing with a plain layer. Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

Oh yeah, and assemble a large tapas dinner while you're at it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No Heat Required

Let's make one thing clear here: I'm a pasta addict. Sure, it's cheap and easy, thereby making it the kind of food off of which we graduate students base our existence. What's more, a good sauce provides the longest-lasting leftovers. I can think back to several periods in my collegiate life when all I had time to eat was Norma's Peanut Sauce. But I find that the real beauty of the food is that it acts as a base for just about anything. It offers a firm grounding for any inspired madman to create a sauce ridiculous and amazing. And as a result, I eat it all the time.

So when Moxie mentioned she wanted to make her mum's recipe for her favourite uncooked sauce, I was game to try it. I have witnessed others try to half-ass an uncooked sauce -- mainly by tossing on some oil, cheese, and calling it done -- and this is most definitely not that. This sauce relies on a collection of strong, distinct flavours: anchovies, olives, garlic, capers, etc. The blended result is amazing: potent, but not overwhelming, and easily diluted/focused by the addition/removal of more noodles. The taste lingers in your mouth without ever becoming abrasive, just leaving you craving more. Of all the sauces that I've experimented with, this is currently the most memorable. And what's more: it's really pretty! Not bad for a meal that takes no more than a few minutes of chopping & mincing to prepare.

Pasta with Uncooked Sauce
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 14 large black olives //Kalamata recommended
  • 3 Tbsp capers, minced
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese //or more, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Cook angel hair pasta until done. Drain and toss with uncooked sauce. Serve immediately. Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese over pasta to taste.

This amount of sauce is good for approximately ½ lb of pasta